Respect: 1. the condition of being esteemed or honored 2. to show regard or consideration for 3. To refrain from intruding upon or interfering with.
Last week there was a touch of the drama in the pole world. I certainly don’t want to dredge up something that has been put to rest (and probably for the best) nor do I want to focus on spats of negativity in an overall positive community. However I was, like many others, deeply troubled by the events.
There is no doubt that the pole community is exploding and rapidly becoming commercialized. The Pole Fitness “trend” could hardly be categorized as a trend anymore.
There are plenty of opportunities for people to make a dollar in this business, regardless of their credentials and even worse, their intentions. Oftentimes a larger, more corporatized studio will go after people it perceives to be a threat to its business and shut them down. I have seen and heard first hand accounts of this nasty behavior, and I find it to be unfortunate.
But here’s the thing. Pole Dancing is a grass roots movement. By definition that means it was started by common people and not by an elite organization. Average, everyday people who found a passion for pole dancing decided to dedicate their resources (time, energy and money) to growing and improving this particular form of dance. Those people have a vision for what they want to see the pole dancing industry become and they are working, oftentimes without any return on their initial investments, because they believe in it. They are pioneers. Bad Kitty Exoticwear is one of them.
I am not privy to all of Bad Kitty’s business practices, so I cannot speak for everyone. But my experience with Jack Gaffney and Trisha Stone is that they come from the heart. I regularly receive emails and messages from Jack with links to articles I might like and places where I can self publish and expand my readership outside of Bad Kitty. Jack has invested time and energy in understanding what I do through emails and phone conversations. And Trisha sprinkles my Facebook page with love notes. It is a very empowering experience to work with them (unlike other companies who are more concerned with taking as much as they can get and offering little in return). They are as passionate about the individuals in the pole community as they are about the community itself. If people are loyal to them it is not out of fear, but rather, out of love and respect. I think this is what made last week’s events so upsetting. There seemed to be a lack of understanding for the nature of Bad Kitty Exoticwear’s ties to the community. They are where they are because they have won the trust and earned the admiration of many, many people. In addition, they have worked extremely hard. I’m not sure they sleep, actually.
Which brings me to another point. I am all for people expanding their businesses, creating new classes, competitions and merchandise. At the same time, I think there has to be a certain amount of respect paid to the people who are paving the way. The PFA, the USPDF, Bad Kitty Exoticwear, Mighty Grip, the UPA, PoleSkivvies, X Pole, Pole2Pole Magazine, The International Pole Dance Magazine are all pioneers in The Pole Dance movement. These people laid the framework for what the pole dance community is rapidly shaping up to be. And it takes a lot of energy to create something – to start a movement. So there needs to be an appreciation for those who have gone before you. This does not mean that they own everything in the pole world, or that they should go after those who imitate them. Rather, it means that if you are starting your own affair in the pole world, you should make sure that you give credit where credit is due.
Most of you are probably reading this and thinking, “Yeah but you write for Bad Kitty. Of course you’re going to say all this.” The truth of the matter is, I am not on their payroll. I owe them nothing and they owe me nothing. The arrangement we have is one of mutual interest, respect and kindness. And that’s hardly what I would call corporate brinksmanship.